Stephen Del Monte of DelMo Sports Inc. is the man behind Tri the Wildwoods Triathlon and 5K and the Atlantic City International Triathlon, the former of which is celebrating its 9th year in 2012. Initially other races were included — a duathlon, aquabike and 5K — as Stephen sought to be all things to all people. That experience taught him one very important lesson: Put your all into one or two things and you can give folks what they want. It proved to be a formula for success. From last year to this, the triathlon went from 450 participants to 800. The 5K grew as well. And the Atlantic City International Triathlon, now in its second year, has quadrupled in growth.
Here are the four things Stephen focuses on to make his events grow, year after year:
1. The Experience
It all takes place on the Southern Jersey Shore, that Stephen is quick to point out “is not like TV. It’s very laid back, kind of like Southern California, with little beach towns.” But as a race director, Stephen Del Monte is anything but laid back. He is dedicated to giving people a great experience and top value for their dollar. That means there’s a catered hot breakfast (served on linens) of sausage, eggs, bagels, and more come race morning. It also means there’s a kid’s zone where runners’ children are taken care of, because Stephen believes you’ve got to take care of family, and all-day passes are given to every athlete, providing complete access to the water park and rides. There’s free beer at a local restaurant from noon to 4:00pm, custom shirts, water bottles, medals, a buffet and live entertainment. Oh – the beaches are free, too. Sounds like an amazing day, right?
2. Location, Location, Location
As for the Atlantic City International Triathlon, Stephen will tell you, “it’s a total learning experience about how to operate in a larger venue.” In just their second year, the national recognition that Atlantic City has is part of what keeps this engine going. With world-class shopping dining and gaming, never before was a triathlon held here. Yet “all it took was one phone call to an acquaintance, who said, ‘give me 10 minutes.’ He called back in 12 and had spoken with the folks in the know who, ironically, were looking for a triathlon.” Kismet?
The race has enough of a presence that four lanes of the Atlantic City Expressway are shut down for it; a reality Stephen still has trouble wrapping his brain around. “It’s beyond belief,” he says. In it’s inaugural year, Historic Boardwalk Hall was the (indoor) transition area and participants bike right on the expressway and run on the boardwalk.
The first year of the Atlantic City International Triathlon was not a financial success and, due to weather conditions, the water portion had to be cancelled midway. Stephen wasn’t sure it would ever happen again, but every one of the 300 athletes involved had a great time and the mayor gave a proclamation that he wanted this to be an annual event. This year Stephen’s expecting 1200 participants. He’s moved the swim from the ocean to the (calmer) bay and switched the transition area to Bader Field, where there will also be a seafood festival.
Stephen feels strongly that he has to take care of his community. Thus he works with the Lunch with Lynch Foundation, which raises money for underprivileged students and schools in need. Last year’s donation was $12,000, half of which came from his races. “We give a dollar amount per head. In the past eight years, that has meant over $50,000 donated to the community.” But for this nonstop athlete, the plans just keep building: working with the Boys & Girls Club, getting students from local colleges involved in volunteering, and establishing the Cadence Cycling Foundation in Atlantic City to transform the lives of inner city kids through a culture of health and fitness. “It’ll take time,” he says, “but we will get there.” No doubt.
This year, 2012, DelMoSports has added the WILD CHILD Splash & Dash, one of only 30 events USA Triathlon chooses to sponsor (there are only three per region), which is part of USA Triathlon’s inaugural Youth Aquathon Series!
A big thanks and congratulations to Stephen Del Monte for being our Event Director of the Month for September!